The disease of drug and alcohol addiction affects more than just the individual struggling- it impacts the entire family. Substance abuse disorder is more than a physical disease as it affects the mind and behavior of those struggling as well. As a result, it can damage and strain relationships. It is difficult to understand why a loved one cannot stop using even in the face of such consequences as job loss, damaged relationships, and failed responsibilities. Families may further struggle as the person with substance abuse exhibits behaviors such as lying and stealing in attempts to fuel their addiction. Over time, this can make family members and friends feel helpless. In reality, there are a number of things that can be done to protect, educate, and help the family and friends of those suffering as well.
It is important to know that you do not have to handle the burden of a loved one’s alcohol and drug abuse alone. Whether it is through family counseling or support groups like Al-Anon, you can and should seek support. At Al‑Anon Family Group meetings, friends and family members of problem drinkers share their experiences and learn how to apply the principles of the Al‑Anon program to their individual situations. It is an opportunity to learn more about the disease and how to set boundaries while still showing support. Younger family members and friends can attend Alateen meetings. They will learn that they are not alone in the confusion and problems they face. Click here to find your nearest Al-Anon meeting.
Through attendance of counseling and support groups you will learn productive ways to offer support. While the behaviors of those affected are difficult and hurtful, it is important to remember that they are struggling with a disease that affects both body and mind. Just as management of diabetes, heart disease, and asthma are possible, management of the chronic disease of addiction is possible as well. With the right treatment and support, those struggling with active substance abuse can come to manage their addiction to live healthy, productive lives.